Gender Differences in Emerging Infectious Diseases

Sharon Lewin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This chapter focuses on gender differences in emerging infectious diseases. An urgent worldwide threat is posed by the introduction and spread of novel infectious diseases. The reasons for emerging infectious diseases are numerous and complex. Among the most significant explanations for these emerging diseases are changes in environment and ecology caused by natural phenomena such as droughts, hurricanes, and floods; and human-made phenomena such as agricultural development, urbanization, and denuding of forests. Worldwide conflict, including wars, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, have led to displacement of large populations into overcrowded settlements where safe water is not available and sanitation is poor. For example, unsanitary conditions led to a huge increase in the rat population in post-war Kosovo, resulting in a tularemia outbreak with 327 confirmed cases in 8 months. Regional conflict leads to breakdown in infection control, inadequate surveillance, impeded access to populations, and spread of infectious diseases through movement of refugees and aid workers. Increased precipitation, a result of climate change, leads to more agricultural run-off, allowing pathogens to enter drinking water systems. In developing countries where poverty and inadequate infrastructure are the norm, public health monitoring systems must be supported and improved so that new or more severe risks to health can be identified and curtailed. As new infectious diseases are recognized, critical issues arise regarding pregnant women and their unborn children. Physiologic changes during pregnancy and gestational age both alter decision-making regarding vaccinations and medications.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrinciples of Gender-Specific Medicine
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780123742711
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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